I’m a checkout person, asking if I can help you pack and offering extra carrier bags. It’s busy, busy, busy and I felt shell shocked after my first shift. A few ibuprofen, a little extra working knowledge and things are starting to settle down. I even left the checkout for a while and had a go at serving in the tobacco & lotto kiosk. As a non-smoker I was gob-smacked by how many brands of cancer sticks on the market, and their price. Still, these are adults and they’ve made their choice (idiotic though I think it is).
After a spell of not working I’ve realised a few things about my foray back into the workplace:
1 – you need to spend money when you start a job. Whether it’s a water bottle with a sports cap or a pair of sensible, comfy plain black shoes that comply with uniform rules. I’ve also got to pay to get a locker key cut. Luckily I live within walking distance of the store so there’s no bus or petrol fares. Makes me wonder how people on benefits cope with that barren time between the last benefit payment hitting their account and their first wage packet. What a precarious period it must be, and how many feel it’s impossible to take up a job offer because they can’t manage that gap?
3 – you need to plan when it comes to food shopping. I’ve got used to pottering to the shops each day, buying odd things as I need them. But I need to get organised, so there’s food in the flat when I get home from work. Otherwise I’m gonna adopt bad habits, chomping on biscuits and choccies or thickly spread Nutella on toast. Too much sugar! I also need to sort out fixed days to get laundry done, ensuring I’ve always got a clean uniform when needed. I’m hopefully not going to move back to full time work – finances allowing – but if I ever do then planning and home-organisation will be key. Making a weekly menu, planning meals, remembering to take things out of the freezer for the following day, etc.
4 – all the power’s with the employer nowadays. Newbies at my supermarket automatically work Bank Holidays in addition to their standard shift pattern. They just do. No ifs or buts. That’s okay for me, but I’m sure some mums with young children would rather have the valuable family time. We were also told in no uncertain terms – don’t call in sick! There’s a 12 week probationary period, and us newbies were told if you have any sick days in those 12 weeks you’re highly unlikely to get past your probation. Now I’m not the sort to wilt away at the first signs of a headache or sneeze, but people do get genuinely ill. People who aren’t shirkers, but have dodgy stomachs or raging flu. Tough sh*t for them. If I feel bad I’m gonna dose myself up with whatever’s needed and work through it. I’ll even smile at customers and offer to help pack. A girl’s gotta do what an employee’s gotta do …
5 – I’ve realised it’d be easy to let ‘creative stuff’ slide. Feeling pooped because of work, both mentally and physically drained, it’d be easy to ignore the allotment, to not think about sewing or making things, to not write short stories. I must ensure I get (hideous phrase alert!) the work-life balance right. To be fulfilling a week must include things that nourish the soul. Going to Mass nourishes the soul. The vibrant colours and patterns of needlepoint do, as does going to plays and films, reading and writing stories, tending plants. All have to be slotted into increasingly light filled spring days.
Anyone else heading back to work after a break? Or managing on Minimum Wage? Any lessons learnt along the way?